Although I've always liked him, I never really considered myself a huge fan of Patton Oswalt. I have watched him in about a billion programs through the years (ranging from Reno 911 to Caprica to The United States of Tara) and even thought his 2009 film "Big Fan" was one of that year's biggest surprises. But in 2011, Oswalt scored with a critically acclaimed role in the dark "Young Adult" (in which he is great) and starred in the subversively loony short form series "The Heart, She Holler." And suddenly, after all these years, I'm starting to think I better call myself a fan. So I was eager to check out Oswalt's latest stand-up special "The Finest Hour." This amusing set, presented before an enthusiastic Seattle audience, is a solidly entertaining comedy routine that encompasses both Oswalt's relatability and his inherent sense of the absurd. It may not be the funniest comedy special I've seen this year, but it absolutely plays to Oswalt's strengths which makes it well worth the investment.
After 20 years in stand-up, it is no surprise that Oswalt's humor has evolved to showcase his role as husband and father. As such, it does not play as blue as some of his previous endeavors. But that's to be expected as his life has evolved. Most of the material is still peppered with his offbeat brand of observational humor about the world in which we live. This set starts out with him sharing the common problems of having a new baby, but quickly moves on to topics as diverse as singing in the car, the sadness of the modern circus, the SPAM museum, vomit bags, and the glory of sweatpants. In truth, it isn't the most cutting edge concert out there and probably skews to an older audience, but fans should easily appreciate Oswalt's latest views. The audio release of this concert even netted Oswalt a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album.
In short, I'm a fan. I admit it. I enjoyed this concert special and, if you know and love Oswalt, I suspect that you will as well. If you have Showtime with your cable TV package, you might be able to check this out prior to purchase if you're in doubt. Clips of the comedy album are also widely available with a minimum of searching. A solid set from the reliable Oswalt, however, makes this purchase an easy recommendation. KGHarris, 2/12.